How Astilleros De Mallorca created a ‘strategic industry’ on the island
After Covid-19 impaired Mallorcas economy, the shipyard strategised an investment in the local community…
Spain is undoubtedly one of the world’s biggest and most important cruising grounds for superyachts. In 2019, youth unemployment was estimated to be 32.61 per cent. In the Balearic Islands, the unemployment rate for 20 to 24-year-olds currently stands at 40.2 per cent, largely because such locations rely heavily on the tourism industry that was wrecked by the pandemic. To combat this, the Balearic government has begun to make changes after recognising the economic and social benefits that the superyacht refit and repair industry is able to bring to the region.
The European Commission recently announced a positive assessment of Spain's recovery and resilience plan in a bid to rebuild the economy and future-proof digital and green ventures following the aftermath of the pandemic. The plan consists of 112 investments and 102 reforms. They will be supported by €69.5 billion in grants with 40% of the plan supporting climate objectives and 28% contributing to the digital transition. In what appears to be an evolutionary period for the country as a whole, there are even more granular developments occurring between local governments and niche industries - not least Mallorca and the superyacht industry.
Carlos Morales, director general of Astilleros de Mallorca has witnessed the government’s backing first-hand, saying, “At the end of the day, what they [the government] have understood is the fact that we are obviously creating value. We are actually bringing wealth to the island and our sector is recognised as a ‘strategic industry’ on the islands, an industry capable of creating highly skilled and well paid labour, and an industry with high productivity during the months when tourism is low, autumn and winter, when repair and refit is in the high season.
“The labour that is created in tourism is normally quite low-rated because the level of expertise does not have to be that high. I think that we are the opposite of that. We are creating an industry where you need technically skilled people, who will have wages which are usually much higher than some of the other main industries on the island. So the refit sector and the superyacht industry as a whole is creating wealth and it is also creating opportunities for high-level employment.”
Astilleros de Mallorca has been working closely with UIB, the local university, in a bid to ensure the local youth are given an opportunity to work in the superyacht industry. With one of the senior project managers involved in the Project Management course at the University of the Balearics, and several others delivering the nautical courses focused on refit and repair, Morales hopes that graduates will be attracted by the wealth of opportunities in the yachting industry.
Victor Perez Campos, Commercial Director of Astilleros De Mallorca also spoke about the strategic plan at The Superyacht Forum in November. While its significance across specific sectors is debated, Campos was clear in his analysis: 'Maybe working in a shipyard is not a sexy job for the millennial generation. So we needed to explain what we do to our local universities and schools. So, we created this arrangement with the University of The Balearics, whereby we can teach the different specialities. The specialities of the workshop, of course, but also skills like project management." The video can be seen below…
Astilleros De Mallorca is involved in many educational projects and collaborates closely with professional schools, such as ‘Escuela Nautico Pesquera’ (Nautical School) with the aim of bringing the current needs of the nautical industry closer to the training centres. Students from the Nautical School, which is the designated centre in Mallorca for education and training in machinery and navigation, visit the premises for apprenticeships while the teachers are updated on the needs of the industry in real time. Some of the teachers involved update their knowledge by completing internships with the shipyard in order to better transmit their knowledge to their students. With this model in place, the shipyard hopes to ensure that students joining the refit sector have the most up- to-date knowledge at their disposal.
For the 2021-22 university season, the UIB now offers a masters in ‘Nautical Industry: Repair & Planification’, which studies the multiple technologies and common procedures in refit and repair, from the different materials used, their pathology and treatment, to the power generation systems and navigation equipment. Another available module is ‘Project Management, based on PMBOK’, which studies the different areas of project management and teaches the use of specific tools and techniques that help carry out a more efficient management of resources, compliance with deadlines and cost control. “With all this action taking place, we trust that we can reverse the trend and ensure that our industry will have highly skilled profiles among the young people.” Morales states that, “The fact that the Balearic Government considers the yachting industry as a strategic sector of the Balearics has meant that there is much help and support; this is now developing future projects in the field. The recent creation of the Balearic Marine Cluster is also an important step in the right direction.”
It’s encouraging to hear Morales speak with such refreshing enthusiasm and determination about the recruitment of young people. There is comfort in knowing that government-backed schemes are helping to support an industry that was able to quickly recover from and adapt to a devastating pandemic. His mission to offer employment to the next generation will be part of a national effort as the country recovers from the economic challenges of the past two years.
There’s a sense of recognition from many stakeholders that the industry hasn’t perhaps been that easy to break into, and in order to have a more dynamic and youthful workforce there must be more accessible and obvious pathways. Without delving into individual shipyards or countries, it’s clear that the industry as a whole is making more of an effort. By being less insular and making those long-term investments and collaborations with institutions and government bodies, the superyacht refit and repair sector can tap into a new pool of talent and enthusiasm that could be key to the future success of the market. For now, the necessary steps have been taken. We just need to up the pace. To read the full feature article on the Next Generation of shipyard workers be sure to sign up as an Essential Member to access the The Superyacht Refit Report...
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